A Bingo Hall
I remember that night well. The first night in my life as an aspiring professional wrestler, when I felt disillusioned by the industry as a whole. I remember rolling off of my opponent, looking at the crimson pulp that was once his face, torn to shreds by glass and barbed wire. It was the smell which offended me the most. Copper, mixed with strong body odour and the stench of shit wafting through his trunks. I listened as the crowd cheered, admiring the wounds that I could see on my hands, arms and chest. I could feel the blood coagulating on my brow, stinging my eyes and stiffening the creases. There couldn’t have been more than a hundred or so fans in attendance, but they sounded like an intimidating, blood-thirsty, mob.
Why are they cheering this?
I had asked myself that question before, but now more than ever I was wondering why human beings would be entertained by over the top, senseless violence. It didn’t feel like a victory, in fact quite the opposite. I had aspired to be like the great technicians I had grown up watching. I would stay up late in my room, with the volume of my small television set turned right down so that my parents couldn’t hear, especially my Dad. He really hated sports, but especially combat sports like boxing and wrestling.
I remember the adrenaline beginning to leave my body as the cramps, aches and stinging began to set in. You don’t feel much when your pumped full of adrenaline and in fight mode. Your body switches off of the pain receptors so that you can focus on surviving, which is exactly what I felt I was doing.
I wasn’t competing. I wasn’t in a contest of strength, skill and ability. I was in a ring with a man who had been given the same set of instructions I had.
“Make it violent. Use weapons. The more blood there is the more money there is!”
Guys were even trying to get creative with their violence, trying to turn it into an artform. The evolution of such wrestlers is evident in people like Scottywood and High Flyer, who simply gain popularity votes by claiming to be unhinged or crazy. No longer were tables good enough, they had to be on fire or wrapped in barbed wire. Traditional wrestling ropes were now replaced with materials you certainly didn’t want to bounce off for momentum. I’d already seen so many young careers ended from stupid stunts gone wrong. Guys weren’t just trying to win any more. They wanted to score ratings by being as violent and dangerous as possible.
I headed backstage deflated and demoralised. At that precise moment I felt like my career had ended as soon as it began. Twenty one years old with the world at his feet, and a young John Sektor felt like he was chasing a dream that was no longer possible.
I knocked on the door of Jimmy Greaves, the man who owned the promotion and sanctioned those barbaric matches. He answered the door, wreaking of his usual cheap cologne, wearing a knock-off faux-leather jacket, trying to portray himself as rich and successful, when we all knew he was bleeding money left right and centre, relying on loan sharks. He was only young at the time, early thirties with a thick mop of black hair atop of his pretty boy, fake tanned face. He had the type of shit eating grin you wanted to smash with a stiff forearm.
Jimmy: JOHNNYYY! Holy shit, you look awful. You should have stopped by the doctors room first.
I hated that he called me Johnny, but was too young and polite to do anything about it.
Sektor: The Doctor can wait.
He wasn’t even a real Doctor. I overheard one of the guys saying he had failed medical school in his final year and had forged his documents. I’d see guys walking around with terrible suture jobs and more often or not they ended up with MRSA infections. One guy lost the tips of his fingers to sepsis after two weeks in the intensive care unit.
Jimmy: Well you looked great out there tonight, Kid. A little advise though, whilst the staple gun always gets a good pop? It’s getting old. I got a power sander in my garage at home gathering dust, maybe you could be the first to..
I held up my hand, feeling nauseous at the thought of what he wanted me to do with that power sander. Believe it or not I didn’t have a strong stomach for violence back then. Sure, I’ve done unspeakable things since, but that comes with evolution. I’ll always do whatever I feel is necessary. But back then the sight of blood was enough to turn my stomach.
Sektor: That was my last match!
His face tightened with confusion. I could tell he was in disbelief that this young, desperate, wrestler standing before him was willing to give up a paying gig.
Sektor: I came by to tell you that I won’t be taking any more bookings here.
Jimmy: I don’t understand. You’ve been doing great! What, am I not paying you enough?
Sektor: No, you’re not. But that’s not the problem.
His head cocked to the side like a confused dog.
Sektor: This isn’t what I’m about. All this over-the-top violence? It’s not for me, man. I’m gonna travel around and try a few other promotions out.
He smiled and rolled his eyes. I could tell he wasn’t taking me seriously. Then came the conradescening arm around the shoulder, which still had a thumb-tac stuck in it.
Jimmy: Listen, Johnny…baby. I get it. You’re tired. You’re in pain. It’s normal to want to give up. But you need to remember why you wanted to be a wrestler.
Sektor: I do. And none of this..
I gestured up and down at my bloodied and bruised body.
Sektor: ..was ever a part of that reason. I’m done with these shitty hardcore, gimmick matches Jimmy. I don’t understand why people pay their hard earned money to see this. This isn’t wrestling!
Jimmy: Hey, I hear ya. I remember when a chair shot was enough to get the crowd exploding. But this is what people want. This is the direction wrestling is heading in, John.
Sektor: But why?
I was desperate for that answer. I was foolish enough to believe that he had some real experience and insight so that he could offer me an intelligent explanation.
Jimmy: Why do people watch horror movies? Why do they like gore? Why are movies becoming more and more violent and shocking? Because people LIKE it! Deep down, the type of people who come to see this are sadists. They wish they could pick up a fork and drive it into their bosses forehead. They wish they could set a table on fire and power bomb their cheating wives through it. They are living vicariously through you guys. It’s in our nature as humans, John. Think back to the gladiator days. People used to cheer warriors hacking each other up with swords and maces and watching tigers rip them apart.
I just shook my head, refusing to believe that this was the direction my beloved sport was headed.
Sektor: This is a small target audience you’re appealing to, Jimmy. I refuse to believe that traditional wrestling is a lost art form. This is no better than dog fighting!
Jimmy: Violence sells, man. It’s as simple as that.
Sektor: Yeah? Well I’m gonna prove otherwise. I’m done. Thank you for the opportunity.
I turned my back on him and began to walk away. I could see the expression on his face in my mind’s eye as he hurled abuse at me.
Jimmy: Yeah? Well FUCK YOU! You think that you’re better than us? You’re gonna fall on your ass and fail! Technical wrestling is dead, John. DEAD!
From that moment forward I made it my life’s mission to make Technical wrestling an appreciated art form again. Do I claim to be the sole person to accomplish this? Of course not. Truth is, a vast majority of the wrestling audience would probably see my style as boring. I move slow in the ring, weaning opponents down with holds and mat wrestling. There’s nothing flashy about what I do, save for the odd moment of creativity and improvisation I have. But I know there is a pocket of the crowd watching me and appreciating my craft and just how good I am at it. I’m the best at what I do, I know that and I don’t care who argues that with me.
I don’t care what the majority of the crowd thinks. They can enjoy their acrobats flying around the ring, risking their necks and bones for nothing more than the applause of the crowd. They can worship men like Scottywood for all the innovative ways he’s managed to hurt people over the years. They can get giddy over their High Octane Fighting matches in the octagon, I don’t give a fuck. I do what I do for me and for the heart and soul of what wrestling is all about. When the Denucci cup comes around in 2021? I won’t be throwing spinning kicks and knee strikes, I’ll be tying people in knotts with submissions because that’s what I do best.
Violence? We all know I’m not above getting blood on my hands if it means me getting a win. Look at what I did to Mike at March to Glory to get the World championship off his shoulder. I literally beat his head with a rock. I’ve been in my share of violent matches since the bingo hall days but they were all a necessary evil. I just don’t like using violence as an illusion to win popularity votes. My legend wont remember me for being a hardcore fanatic.
Believe it or not, I was once a gentle person. Okay, maybe not gentle, but I certainly wasn’t an aggressive or violent individual. I was one of life’s nice guys, coming into the big world of wrestling with nothing more than a dream and suitcase full of Daddy issues. But I was happy. Those hardcore matches brought out a side of me I didn’t know I had. It was kill or be killed and I was soon getting the taste for blood. I didn’t like that side of myself, at least not back then. Now I’ll rip a mother fucker open just to see how much guts he has and I’ll be damn proud of it.
I often wonder if those matches were responsible for the domestic violence which led to the breakdown of my marriage. I can’t blame it on that entirely. I was a tired, beat up wrestler, on the road six days a week and trying to cope with home life and baby. Solex talks about how he would struggle with civilian life when he would return from tour. Wrestling is more or less the same. You spend the majority of time away from your home and people you travel with become your family. Your way of life is training, drinking, drugs, wrestling…REPEAT. Throw into the mix walking in on your wife banging her personal trainer and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. I got 18 months suspended jail sentence for breaking her jaw in two places, and a restraining order forbidding me from going anywhere near her. I wouldn’t see my little girl again until she was almost five years old, and only because Helen died of a stroke at the age of thirty. To this day, I wonder if the damage I did to her lead to her eventually having that stroke.
Anyway, the point is those matches have stayed with me and like it or not they’ve played a part in shaping who I am now as a wrestler and human being.
I guess that’s where our paths differ, Flyer. You started your career like your name-sake, a High Flyer. You zipped around the ring, pulling off aerial acrobatics like something from an air show, wowing the crowds and earning a quick fan base for yourself. But then your knees went to shit so you had to learn how to slum it on the canvas. Now, now you get those easy pops by claiming that you’re ‘Crazy’ and throw unnecessary violence into your craft in a desperate attempt to keep your name alive. You don’t fool me, Harmen. You’re no crazier than the rest of us. I know crazy, I was once mentored by Max Kael. You are not ready to be tossed onto the scrap heap so you do whatever crazy shit you can to keep yourself in the spotlight.
Me? I was born into violence. My Dad beat me routinely, whilst my wasp of a mother drank and turned a blind eye. My career was no different. Extreme wrestling was all the rage when I entered the squared circle and I earned my blood bad first night out. But I stayed true to myself and my craft. I didn’t care if my career flopped, I was determined to be a success as a traditional, technical wrestler and I fucking did it.
Now I said some pretty harsh things to you on the go home show. I stand by every word I said. Having said that, I realise that I may have come across a little disrespectful. To be clear, there are many aspects of who you are and what you’re about that I don’t respect, but your status as a Legend? Isn’t one of them. No matter how you did it you still ran the same gauntlet I went through to get to where you are and it would be absurd of me not to respect that.
Your name is legend.
But that is all you are, now.
Lee brought you here to give the machine a big injection of fuel. He bought the bullshit you were selling and believed in you so much that he blindly put you in the Best Alliance.
Excuse the pun.
But you failed him. Not only did you turn your back on the Alliance but you failed him as a so called Legend. You’ve failed to win big matches. You’ve failed to win titles and overall? You’ve failed to leave your mark and make your name in the only company that has ever fucking mattered.
High Octane Wrestling!
Now he turns to the man whom he can always rely on to get shit done. The ring General. The man who picked apart Eric Dane like he was NOTHING. I have nothing against you personally. You’ve never done anything to me. All I want to do is beat you convincingly so that I can finish the year strong and undefeated. Unlike you I still have plenty of gas left in the tank. Unlike you I am still capable of winning the big matches and unlike YOU I haven’t lost my appetite for winning championships.
I got a career tape that any wrestler would die happy with but I am never satisfied. Nothing is enough.
So what am I to expect from you, Flyer? Well, that’s just the thing isn’t it? Your greatest strength is your unpredictability. You’ve made a career out of chaos and anarchy. There is no game plan I can make that will counter what you have planned for me, simply because you will not have a plan. As always, you will be Flying on the seat of your pants, using the unknown to your advantage and fighting off the cuff. I watched countless hours of High Flyer footage. I’ve watched you evolve and change your technique but there are two aspects that have always remained consistent. You’re unpredictable and you have heart. Those are perhaps the two most dangerous things I could possibly go up against.
Did you know that you’ve competed in more matches this year than any other wrestler? That’s impressive. Even at your age you are the fucking work horse, it seems, but that’s probably just Lee’s way of getting some value out of you. Your win percentage on the other hand? Is less than impressive.
This is the part that concerns me more than anything. I don’t want a soft match at Iconic. I know I haven’t been back long and really I should be grateful for anything I am being given right now. It’s still a pay per view match with a pay per view pay day. Thing is, I don’t care about the money any more. I want my Iconic match to be exactly that:
On paper, this has the potential to be a barn barn burner. Two of the biggest Legends of the game, going head to head, nose to nose, man’o-e’man’o? We could steal the show if we wanted to. It’s one of those matches that could literally have people telling stories about it one day. My worry is that you simply don’t care.
A few weeks back you had an opportunity to come out and crash our Tag Title celebrations and instead you sent out Mary-Lou Moist-Panties or whatever the fuck her name is to do your talking for you. Even the tone of her voice told me that you couldn’t give two single fucks about this match. I get it dude, I didn’t either but we have to make the most of the opportunities we get given. I see this now as a moment to shine, to have an epic battle with one of the most Legendary veterans of the business and come out with an Iconic victory.
You see, If I’m not competing for World championships, then I’m all about creating moments, at this point in my career. Winning the World titles with Jatt Starr? That was a great moment in history. We were each other’s biggest revivals for a long portion of our careers, then we came together and captured the World Tag Team titles? That’s a great fucking moment, and we beat a legitimate Tag Team to do it. That’s what I’m all about now. Creating history that people will talk about in books and documentaries, immortalising myself through my craft. We all know my accolades, records and accomplishments. But to be a part of Iconic matches is what this is all about.
But that all hangs on you.
That’s why I said all that shit. If you haven’t figured it out by now I’m trying to light a fire inside you. I don’t even know if that flame still burns but if it does I want it roaring like a blast furnace when you stand across from me on December nineteenth. I know you’re realising now that it’s time to start fighting for your career. But losing to me doesn’t have to be the end for you.
Because you will lose.
All that matters is the performance. Be a part of something great and you can kick on from that. Quit being a joke and get serious. Bring everything you have. Bring tools, I’ll knock out the referee myself so you can use them. Whatever you want to throw at me, do it! If you truly believe you are fighting to survive, then shoot to kill mother fucker.
History, man. That’s all that guys that me and you can do these days. Except I’m not here to ignite the spark to get your career going again. I couldn’t give two fucks if you ride off into the sunset or walk away with your tail between your legs. If I run into you at an empty booth in a convention selling moth eaten High Flyer t-shirts I won’t even say hello. I need you to look good so that I can look good.